Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Before Their Time - Army Sci-Fi Weapons Research

The Army has a flying saucer -- a real, honest-to-goodness flying saucer. It also has a jetpack, a hover car and an all-terrain walking vehicle. If that sounds like something out of a "Star Wars" movie, that's because Hollywood is influenced by the Army's experimental technologies.

Those technologies, developed in the 1950s through the 1970s, were public knowledge, and concept artists and directors could take inspiration from them. Army veteran and artist Ralph McQuarrie, known as "the godfather of the Star Wars aesthetic," created stunning concept art of hovercraft, androids and cybernetic walkers for George Lucas' films.

A combat veteran of the Korean War who survived a bullet wound to the head, McQuarrie would have known about the Army's experiments, said Command Sgt. Major Dennis J. Woods, the command sergeant major for initial military training and senior enlisted advisor on Fort Eustis, Virginia. And some of those technologies that inspired McQuarrie can now be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum on Fort Eustis.

"[The museum] represents the Army's attempt at problem solving over time," Woods said, "And then how many of these objects have led to other developments."

The museum itself, a single-story brick building just inside the main gate of Fort Eustis, appears small. Off to the right, visitors can see older jeeps and a few dry-docked marine vehicles on the grass. Parking is sparse, but don't let any of that fool you.

"We have over 35,000 square feet of galleries and indoor exhibits, and then we have four outside, thematic exhibit areas that include the four major nodes of transportation: rail, aviation, maritime and of course, vehicles," said David S. Hanselman, director of the Transportation Museum.

The museum is one of more than 65 museums in the Army, which shares a central mission, Hanselman continued, to train and educate Soldiers on the history and heritage of the Army.

"As a branch museum, if you will, we also have the dual purpose of being a technological repository to document the things that the Army uses through the ages," he said. The museum has been around since the 1950s in one form or another, but the current facility was established in 1976.

The Transportation Museum is touted as having the most diverse collection of artifacts in the entire Army museum system, Hanselman added.

Extensively researched dioramas and text displays fill the indoor space of the museum. Visitors walk through the exhibits chronologically, from the beginning of the Army's transportation history all the way up through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. From tiny models to glass-enclosed artifacts to life-sized dioramas, there is always something interesting to explore. Hanselman explained that the dioramas ensure that all visitors will learn something while at the museum, even if they aren't reading the text.

"It puts it into a contextual setting that allows folks to understand a little bit more about [an artifact], even if they don't read a single word of text," he said.


Larger experimental machines are on display outside. The four open-air exhibits house an incredible variety of cars, aircraft and marine vehicles, with examples from World War II forward. A chilly wind whipped through the maze of artifacts in the Aviation Pavilion as Hanselman described the artifacts, but the cold didn't damper his enthusiasm.

"What we have here in our experimental craft, we have a lot of one-of-a kind experimental craft and a couple of those are kind of direct descendants of the Star Wars technologies that you see on the screen today," he said.

The Cybernetic Walker, which is quite similar to its fictional Imperial Walker counterpart, is kept with the aviation artifacts. Two extra legs support the bright orange, elephant-sized walking machine for the display, Hanselman explained as he wove through rotor- and fixed-wing craft.

"Normally, it's just the four legs that it stands on," he said. "It does work, it did work, I mean, but it's a hydraulic nightmare. It actually had to be tethered to a hydraulic tank because it would blast through so much hydraulic oil in operation," Hanselman added. The operator would sit in the middle of the walker and use a series of levers to move the vehicle.

The walker was developed as a concept vehicle for lifting heavy loads over any kind of terrain, since helicopters were only just coming of age. The walker could carry 500 pounds of cargo, and was easy to maneuver, but being tethered to a hydraulic tank limited its usefulness.

"It did work, but the turbine engine was coming of age and as it developed, it vastly increased the capability of the helicopter, and this thing was proved obsolete, not needed, so it never went past the experimental stage," Hanselman said.

An improved version of that technology is being used by logging companies today to move timber over mountainous terrain, Woods said. He also pointed out AirGeep II VZ-8P, or "flying jeep," could be developed in the future for civilian medical use, allowing emergency personnel to soar over traffic and arrive at the scene much faster.

The AirGeep itself just appears to be two giant turbines held together by a couple of jump seats, what Woods described as a "baby helicopter." It was developed in 1946 as a solution for getting Soldiers into destroyed urban areas in World War II, but the helicopter won out.

"This thing would do about 85 miles per hour, and could reach an altitude of 3,000 feet, so you could cruise that just over the ground level into these leveled cities, and it was originally going to be a machine gun vehicle," he said, tapping the metal frame. The two seats on the craft also had ejection capabilities.

Another hovercraft sat near the Airgeep. This one, shaped like a 1950s convertible, is known as the Ground Effects Machine, or GEM, and resembles the landspeeder that Luke tools around in during "Star Wars: A New Hope."

"Curtis Wright [corporation] made this thing; it's a hovercraft, pure and simple," Hanselman said. "But they made it to look like an automobile with the thought that the general public would accept this and want one in every driveway.

"Pardon the pun, but it didn't quite take off as an idea," he added. The Army purchased two of the GEMs to test the capabilities in concept. The hovercraft could cross water and smooth ground, but had trouble on rough terrain.

The GEM has two turbines, similar to the Airgeep, which are encased in the body of the craft. Rubber skirting along the bottom of the vehicle traps the air from the turbines and creates a cushion to move on. Allowing air to escape from vents on the front, rear and sides of the vehicle enabled directional control, Hanselman explained.


One of the most iconic pieces inside the museum is the Vietnam-era gun truck, "Eve of Destruction." As the only gun truck to return from combat in Vietnam, Eve is a popular exhibit. Hanselman and his staff built a mock guard tower as a viewing platform next to the truck so that visitors could see into the bed without climbing in the artifact. The truck is particularly special because it becomes a key point of study for the war in Iraq, Hanselman said.

"For the first time since Vietnam, our convoys become the main target of the enemy. They want to shut down our logistics chain, and so, our guys said, just like in Vietnam, we've got to start protecting ourselves, we've got to start developing gun trucks," he continued. Museum staff spent weeks with Army researchers discussing the design of the gun truck, which led to the development of today's convoy escort platforms. In fact, a descendant of Eve can be seen at the end of the museum's indoor display in the Iraq exhibit.

Around the corner from the gun truck are two experimental flying machines developed originally for the transportation of individual Soldiers: The De Lackner Aerocycle and the rocket belt.

The pilot shifting his weight maneuvers the aerocycle, which is an alarming combination of what appears to be a lawn mower engine, two helicopter blades and a platform with handlebars.

The counter-rotating, 15-foot blades gave the Soldier three-dimensional mobility, Hanselman said, but the device was hard to control.

"It was actually tested at Fort Eustis, out at Felker Army Airfield, by that guy," Hanselman added, pointing at the mannequin atop the aerocycle, "Capt. [Selmer] Sundby, who retired Col. Sundby -- I say that so you know he lived through the program."

During one of Sundby's test flights, the blades on the Aerocycle flexed and collided with one another, which crashed the machine at 40 feet in the air. The then captain sustained a broken leg, but was otherwise unharmed, Hanselman explained. The Aerocycle was eventually abandoned in favor of the helicopter.

The rocket belt, on the other hand, was easy to control, but had several drawbacks of its own.

"The problem is it had a limited burn time, and if you're in combat, you have a 40-second burn time, well, it could be detrimental to your health, and oh, by the way, you have two highly volatile chemicals strapped to your back," Hanselman said."And it's a really big, bulky piece of equipment, so where do you put your rucksack and all of your other gear that you need in a combat environment?"

Military planners came to visit the museum and study the rocket belt during the Iraq war, to research possibilities for urban flight, Hanselman added.

Woods went on to describe a flying saucer -- complete with three jet engines -- that had been packed away for future study, since it couldn't maintain stability higher than four feet off the ground.

The museum may seem like a graveyard for failed experiments, with so many outrageous vehicles resting in the pavilions, but both Hanselman and Woods emphasized that failures pave the way for progress.

"As history geeks, we find out … that you learn more probably from your failures than you do your success," Hanselman said. "For every success, there's 100 failures out there, you can't get them all. But some of those failures will help tell the story of how you got to the success that everybody knows, and that's a big part of the learning curve, especially when you're talking about this for military operations, which is a pretty demanding environment for anything to operate in."

"We got to shoot broad, here," Woods said. He hopes that these older technologies can be repurposed with newer, composite materials. For example, that flying saucer could be a viable drone, computer stabilized and able to fly in any direction.

"This is what we were doing in the past," Woods said. "Just imagine what we're up to now."

Friday, December 18, 2015

AEGIS Ashore Deploys from Romania

U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mr. Hans Klemm and Romanian Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu announced the major military components of the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System in Romania have been transferred to Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, during a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 18.

The Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System (AAMDS) in Deveselu, Romania, is a key element in Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).


"I'm happy to report that this ceremony today marks that all major military construction on the base - that is, everything necessary for operating the system - is complete and functioning, and that the project came in under-budget, thanks in no small part to the excellent cooperation we received from the government of Romania. We now move on to the next phase of operational testing and evaluation, in preparation for its Initial Operating Capacity declaration, as well as the NATO integration process."

- U.S. Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm

"[Missile Defense Agency Director] Vice Adm. Syring and I conducted a thorough walk through of the Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu yesterday. I am impressed by all of the progress the U.S. and Romanian team has made since my last visit in February. Now that CNE-CNA (Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa)/U.S. 6th Fleet has ownership of Aegis Ashore-Romania, we will begin integration into the existing NATO BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) architecture."

- Vice Adm. James Foggo, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet

Quick Facts:

EPAA is the U.S. national contribution to NATO Ballistic Missile Defense and was implemented in phases in order to be adaptable and flexible and be able to include evolving BMD technology to counter the growing BMD threat.

The purpose of the EPAA is to protect European NATO allies and U.S. deployed forces in the region against current and emerging ballistic threats from the Middle East.

Phase One - completed in fiscal year 2011 - involved the deployment of current and proven missile defense systems, including one deployed BMD capable ship, the SM-3 Block IA interceptor, and a forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2) in Turkey.

U.S. 6th Fleet will test and evaluate the AAMDS-Romania in preparation for future integration into the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense Architecture.

NATO BMD architecture includes the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance System (AN/TPY-2); a command and control network operated from Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and the BMD-capable guided missile destroyers, forward deployed to Rota, Spain.

U.S. and Romanian officials broke ground Oct. 28, 2013 for the AAMDS at Deveselu Air Base, Romania.

US Aircraft Carriers Deploy NULKS Decoys

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) completed the first successful carrier launch of the MK 234 Nulka countermeasure fired from the MK 53 Decoy Launching System (DLS), Dec. 16.

Nulka, an Australian Aboriginal word meaning to "be quick," is a rapid-response active expendable decoy (AED) capable of providing highly effective defense for ships against modern anti-ship missiles (ASM).

The decoy was developed through a joint effort by Australia and the United States. Australia developed the hovering rocket while the U.S. developed the electronic payload.

When launched, the Nulka decoy radiates a large, ship-like radar cross section that attempts to lure ASMs away from their intended targets.

"The Nulka system brings with it a needed upgrade to the Ike's current Anti-Ship Missile Defense (ASMD) capability," said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Christopher Noltee, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Program Executive Office (PEO), Information Warfare Systems (IWS) 2.0 military liaison. "When a signal originates from the ship, you're still a potential target. Nulka gives you separation. This round sends out the electronics, away from your ship. The goal is to get the missile to fly to the Nulka round instead of coming here."

Although the Nulka round has been used on smaller naval vessels for years, it had never been used aboard a ship as large as an aircraft carrier. Ike is the second carrier to have the MK 53 DLS installed, but the first to successfully deploy the Nulka countermeasure while at sea. It's considered a "soft-kill" weapon, which means that it's used to deceive and never makes physical "skin-to-skin" contact.

"Hard-kill weapons systems are used for both offensive and defensive purposes while soft-kill weapons systems are used strictly for defensive purposes." Noltee said.

During the testing phase, all aircraft and personnel were removed from the flight deck while weather conditions and the sea-state were closely monitored.

"For testing purposes, we wanted to have baseline conditions," said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Robert Whiddon, Ike's Electronic Warfare Module leading chief petty officer. "We wanted to be able to control everything we could to mitigate risk. In the real world, you don't have hours to prepare for a Nulka launch, you have less than a minute. But when you're testing, you want to control the environment."

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Apprentice Jerry Dalalo pressed the button that launched the first Nulka round from a carrier platform.

"I had to go through a lot of procedures to make sure every condition was right," Dalalo said. "I was really nervous. I had a lot of butterflies in my stomach, but luckily it went through fine."

Ike successfully launched the Nulka countermeasure five times over the course of three days, surpassing the minimum testing requirement by two launches.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

USAF Short on UAV Pilots, Turns to Enlisted

Air Force officials announced a new initiative Dec. 17 to enhance the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission by integrating enlisted remotely piloted aircraft pilots into the force.

Air Force officials stated a dynamic threat environment calls for innovative approaches to high-demand missions. After careful consideration and with an eye toward potential future force needs, service officials plan to deliberately integrate the enlisted force into flying operations, starting with the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

"Our enlisted force is the best in the world and I am completely confident they will be able to do the job and do it well," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "The RPA enterprise is doing incredibly important work and this is the right decision to ensure the Air Force is positioned to support the future threat environment. Emerging requirements and combatant commander demands will only increase; therefore, we will position the service to provide warfighters and our nation the capability they deserve today and in the future."

The secretary and chief directed Air Combat Command to develop an implementation plan over the next six months to address items like entry requirements, training plans, career path development, delineation of duties, compensation details and an appropriate force mix. Implementation is focused on the Global Hawk community, not the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper force.

"This action will make the most of the capabilities of our superb enlisted force in order to increase agility in addressing the ISR needs of the warfighter," James said. "Just as we integrated officer and enlisted crew positions in the space mission set, we will deliberately integrate enlisted pilots into the Global Hawk ISR community."

In the space mission arena, the Air Force took a deliberate approach to incorporate enlisted personnel into satellite operations. During the space mission transition, the Air Force ensured enlisted Airmen were prepared to successfully assume these new responsibilities. Phasing the conversion also allowed squadrons to build expertise and transition officers into other areas that faced shortages, officials said. As a result, the Air Force grew leadership opportunities and normalized operations, posturing for a more congested and contested environment in space.

"We are taking action now to address future ISR needs," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "Not too long ago, we took the best of both officer and enlisted development tracks to lead the space mission. A similar model can be applied to our Global Hawk operations."

This initiative to incorporate enlisted pilots is the first step to developing future operating concepts within the multi-domain ISR enterprise. The Global Hawk is the most stable RPA community and presents an ability to integrate new capabilities in an effort to better posture the force for the dynamic future operating environment.

"The Global Hawk mission is a strategically vital mission," Welsh said. "The transition to enlisted pilots will be managed with minimum impact on current Global Hawk pilots. As always, we will continue to assess and balance our force to meet warfighter needs while ensuring appropriate force development."

The service plans to be deliberate in its approach, ensuring learning occurs along the way.

  "What we learn from flying Global Hawks with enlisted pilots under the supervision of rated officers will inform whether we apply a similar approach to other weapon systems," Welsh said. "It is too soon to speculate on any expansion of enlisted aircrew beyond the Global Hawk program."

Air Force officials are confident this decision will enable flexibility heading into the future.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Lifesaver" Horoho Retires as Surgeon General

"I was there [in Afghanistan] to witness her performance, and it was incredible. There are many, many lives today that would not be living without the efforts of Patty Horoho," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said.

Milley spoke during a special retirement review in honor of Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, the 43rd Army surgeon general, here at Conmy Hall.

While deployed to Afghanistan, Horoho saved lives through improvements to tactical combat casualty care, medevac procedures, getting needed care during the critical "golden hour" following wounds or injuries, tele-behavioral health, resiliency training, encouraging sleep discipline, looking after women's health, health records improvements, and much more, Milley said.

Following her deployment, she was the first woman, and the first non-physician in any service to serve as a surgeon general, "and that's an amazing achievement," Milley said.

Horoho received a direct commission from the University of North Carolina as a nurse.

As surgeon general, and throughout her career, Horoho epitomized the best qualities of Army leaders, the chief said. She has had a reputation for breaking down barriers, increasing collaboration, innovativeness, upholding moral and ethical values and team building. She accomplished every mission given her.

She's also a leader of great character and compassion, Milley added, saying these characteristics are "the embodiment of what I expect in all our senior leaders."


The job of surgeon general is a big one, Milley said. She's tasked with providing health and medical services to some 1.8 million Soldiers from all components, retirees and all their Families.

Besides that, she's "dual-hatted," commanding the U.S. Army Medical Command and its vast network, covering five continents, he added.

As surgeon general, Horoho significantly increased readiness and resilience, with her emphasis on sleep, activity and nutrition, which forms what's termed the Performance Triad, he said.

Besides that, she's delivered proactive Army medicine and health care and her warrior care effort has resulted in about 45 percent of sick, ill or wounded Soldiers on the road to recovery and back in a duty status, he said.

She's also collaborated with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help reduce medical board process time required for transitioning Soldiers, he said.

In sum, "she puts meaning into taking care of troops and their Families more than any person I know," Milley said.


Horoho said the Army is fortunate to have great leaders who are selfless, committed and serve with honor.

Three words best sum up why the Army is great, she said: "service, relationships and trust."

She said she's been blessed to have a great life, career and Family, along with her "brothers and sisters in arms."

Milley noted that her husband, Ray, is a retired Army colonel and since retiring, he's been a good supporting spouse and has volunteered his time to help Soldiers and their Families.

The Horohos have two children, Maggie, who is pursuing an FBI career, and John, an Army cadet at the College of Charleston, who will be commissioned next year. Milley presented John his mother's second lieutenant bars.

For her 33 years of distinguished service, Milley awarded Horoho the Distinguished Service Medal.

Notable guests included former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki and Ann Campbell, wife of Gen. John Campbell, the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Milley said it was fitting that the ceremony took place here, as Fort Myer has had a rich medical history, dating back to the Civil War, when battlefield hospitals on post took care of the sick and wounded.

In all, some 85 hospitals were built throughout the Washington, D.C. area during the Civil War, including Walter Reed, which Horoho once commanded, he noted.

In conclusion, Milley said Horoho has been "a transformational leader focused on improving care and reforming the entire Army medical system; from health care delivery to patient care to a proactive system of health."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dr. Tanya West First African-American Army Surgeon General

Maj. Gen. Nadja West was sworn in Friday as the Army's first African-American surgeon general.

When she pins on her third star, West will become the Army's first female African-American lieutenant general and the highest-ranking woman to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The Senate confirmed West Thursday for the position and Acting Army Secretary Eric Fanning administered the oath of office to her Friday, making her the Army's 44th surgeon general and commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command, or MEDCOM.

West most recently served as the Joint Staff surgeon at the Pentagon.

The Army surgeon general provides advice and assistance to the Army secretary and chief of staff on all health care matters pertaining to the U.S. Army and its military health care system.

West will be responsible for development, policy direction, organization and overall management of an integrated Army-wide health service system and is the medical materiel developer for the Army. These duties include formulating policy regulations on health service support, health hazard assessment and the establishment of health standards.

Dual-hatted as the MEDCOM commanding general, West will oversee more than 48 medical treatment facilities providing care to nearly four million active-duty members of all services, retirees and their Family members. MEDCOM is composed of three regional health commands, the Medical Research and Materiel Command, and Army Medical Department Center and School.

West holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a doctorate of medicine from George Washington University School of Medicine. She has held previous assignments as commanding general of Europe Regional Medical Command; commander of Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and division surgeon, 1st Armored Division, Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Patriot Test Vehicle Launched

The U.S. Air Force's Rocket Systems Launch Program and its mission partners successfully completed the fourth launch of a Patriot Test Vehicle today.

"Continued success of the Juno target series provides a reliable and affordable test target for our US Army mission partners," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space at Los Angeles Air Force Base. "Congratulations to the Launch Enterprise team and its mission partners."

The Patriot Target Vehicle, known as Juno, was designed by Orbital ATK to provide a realistic threat target, which meets the stringent performance requirements of the U.S. Army's Patriot missile defense system. The target's first stage lifts the rocket from its launch pad to above the earth's atmosphere. After a short coast period, the rocket's second stage ignites, extending the range of the target missile to complete its flight path into the defended footprint of a Patriot test battery. In addition to Orbital ATK's work as the prime contractor for the target, TASC Inc. provided mission assurance services to independently verify and validate the Juno Target's performance.

The Juno Target contributes toward meeting the Rocket Systems Launch Program responsibilities to re-utilize excess motors from intercontinental ballistic missiles for U.S. government research, development, test and evaluation efforts, incorporating two solid rocket motors from the LGM-30F Minuteman II weapon system which was retired in 1994.

The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Air Force's center of excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tactical Air Controllers - Airmen Train For Ground Combat

The staccato rhythm of automatic weapons fire punctuated by the deep bass thumps and sharp explosions of artillery blasts fill the air. Sudden whooshes signal the launch of shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles, adding to the commotion. The bright ting of bullets ricocheting off armor plating join the other sounds orchestrating a freakish battlefield symphony.

Through it all the Joint Terminal Attack Controller maintains focus. He coordinates artillery to suppress the SAM fire long enough for a circling A-10 Thunderbolt he is directing to strafe an enemy tank, all without hitting any friendly elements. At the precise second the command is given, SAMs are suppressed, enemy tank is neutralized and the A-10 flies off into the distance and a successful mission is completed under the direction of the JTAC.

Even though the previous scenario was a simulation, it's all in a typical days work for members of a 13th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party, whether training or deployed. The JTAC is one of the positions within the TACP. The Air Force squadron provides tactical command and control of close air support assets to U.S. Army ground commanders of the 4th Infantry Division during combat operations. The squads are normally located on Army posts working through a memorandum of agreement.

"We accomplish the ground commander's intent and keep people safe," said 1st Lt. Marc Buker, 13th ASOS chief of training at Fort Carson, Colorado.

The squadron's mission is straightforward; they are either in battle or preparing for battle. Unlike other Air Force squads the ASOS's do not supply ancillary services to the greater Air Force like security forces does, so when members are not deployed they are training in preparation for deployment.

"Our only mission is war," Buker said. Training for battle functions includes flag exercises at places like the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., where brigade on brigade - comparable to an Air Force Wing - exercises take place. With no aircraft of its own, 13th ASOS chases aircraft Buker said. What he means is that TACPs frequently travel to where aircraft are participating in training to be able to work on live scenarios with real assets.

The focus on training as frequently as possible includes sending people to various Army schools such as the Ranger, Airborne, Air Assault and Pathfinder schools. Earning badges from these schools helps JTACs understand Army methods better. It also improves credibility with the soldiers with whom they serve, Buker said.

TACP Airmen are both "green" and "blue," having an Air Force chain of command but living and working with the Army for most of their careers. While they dress in Air Force uniforms, their squadron headquarters is more Army-like. Army combat vehicles and equipment are standard parts of the facility.

"This situation creates a unique, joint individual well postured to be a force multiplier for both services. This is demanding on our airman, as an (airman first class) might have dual responsibilities: briefing an Army commander on how best to use (close air support) and then going outside the wire that same day to control the CAS," he said.

Immersed in the Army, Buker admits 13th ASOS members lean a little to the green, or Army, side. But since they come to Peterson AFB for things like medical and financial services it helps keep them blue. The biggest blue influence is working with and communicating with Air Force pilots regularly.

"It keeps us a little blue," Buker said. "We get to be part of both organizations. We get the best of both worlds. Most of us are glad we are in the Air Force."

The 13th ASOS is somewhat spoiled being located so near to Peterson AFB. Many other squadrons are located at Army bases distant from Air Force bases where they go for services. Most of what the 13th ASOS needs is readily available to them at Fort Carson or on Peterson AFB with only a short trip to get what they need.

When the services work together there is a synergy that benefits both. Buker said TACP can't do its job without the Army and the same goes the other way. The mutual support brings together a level of expertise that allows the roughly 140 members of 13th ASOS to coordinate support for a 25,000 person strong Army division.

And it takes more than JTACs to provide the needed level of support. Many people usually associate the ASOS with JTACs because they are the tip of the spear Buker said. For example, the 13 ASOS has the 4th Infantry Division Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Officer, who is the principal Air Force expert on intelligence to the whole division. Expert radio maintainers are another integral position in the ASOS.

"JTACs use portable communication radios to coordinate and control the airpower we project and without them we are combat ineffective," Buker said. "Here at the 13th ASOS it takes the whole team to accomplish the mission."

Other members of the ASOS team include air liaison officers, radio maintainers, vehicle maintainers, power production, and intelligence personnel.

"Without any member of that team, we falter. When we work together as a resilient and lethal Gunslinger family, we thrive," he said.

The TACP career field is small, elite and in great demand. Because of the value of the TACP, personnel are constantly deployed and not just with 4th Infantry Division. TACP members deploy with Army units all over the world as needed. They may even deploy with special operations groups like Navy SEAL teams if the mission demands their expertise. The high operations tempo means there are many personnel deployed across the globe at any time.

The most important skills needed to be a TACP are intelligence, communication, physical prowess and character. Coordinating multiple fixed-wing and rotary aircraft as well as artillery all while moving, targeting and returning enemy fire requires a high level of intellect. Because the job relies almost entirely on communication the JTAC needs to be able to communicate clearly in the languages of both the Air Force and the Army keeping all involved on the same page. Physical ability is critical because the Airmen of the TACP need to move with their assigned Army units.

"A good measure of a physically fit TACP is the ability to ruck," Buker said. "No TACP can graduate our schoolhouse until they can greatly exceed all Army standards of rucking, running, and calisthenics. We cannot afford to be mentally tired when doing our jobs, so we have to do everything the Army is doing and still be fresher than they are in order to provide terminal attack control and communicate with the aircraft."

Because of the unique nature of the TACP career field, strong character is a prerequisite. Unlike other Airmen, Buker said a TACP is an example of character and professionalism not just to other Airmen, but to the Army. With the great responsibility TACPs are given, much is expected and character cannot be taken lightly.

Through performance in action the TACP has proven its worth time and again. The need to expand the availability of TACPs and JTACs throughout the globe is recognized. Buker said TACP was recently classified as a major weapons system. The classification brings with it more funding allowing for more, and more sophisticated, training.

"The last two conflicts shined the spotlight (on TACP) as a force multiplier," said Buker.

Increased training will only improve what the TACP is able to bring to bear in combat. For example, with increased threat of space warfare and the potential for satellite communications to be disabled, TACPs must be ready to handle a variety of situations and methods of calling in munitions to carry out the mission.

One thing is certain, when experts are needed to drop bombs close to friendly forces, there are none better than U.S. Air Force TACPs to accomplish it while keeping friendly forces in both the air and on the ground safe, Buker said.

US Army - Rapid Reaction vs Russian Threat in Europe

Russians can operate on their interior lines and quickly shift forces around. As a result, all exercises conducted by the U.S. and its European allies place heavy emphasis on speed, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges.

Hodges, commander, U.S. Army Europe, or USAREUR, spoke Dec. 9 at a Pentagon press briefing.

By speed, Hodges said he meant the speed to recognize a potential crisis, speed to act politically and speed of assembly and movement of troops to the point of crisis by road and rail. Once in place, speed and proper execution of operation would also depend on interoperability among all of the U.S. allies. That's the focus of training and exercise.

The general then provided an overview of Russian actions and the responses by the U.S. and its European allies.


Hodges explained that as recently as a few years ago, the U.S. thought Russia could be a partner. Russian-led incursions into eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea changed all that.

The Russians have not allowed independent monitoring to determine Russian compliance with the Minsk Agreement, he said. Since September, there have been several hundred cease-fire violations and Ukrainians have been killed.

Although a lot of their heavy equipment has been pulled back from the border area with Ukraine, the infrastructure remains in place and the Russians could quickly ramp up if they wanted to, he said.

In Crimea, Russia has 25,000 soldiers, a credible air defense and its Black Sea fleet, which has the capability of blocking U.S. and ally access to the Black Sea, where allies Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, as well as Georgia are located, he said.

Moving westward, the Russians have a significant naval and ground force in Kaliningrad, a wedge of Russian territory between Lithuania and Poland. That force, he said, could effectively cut off access to the Baltic area.

Furthermore, Russian officials have talked about Denmark, Sweden and Romania in terms of being nuclear targets, he said. That's a very irresponsible use of words. "So you can see why our European allies are nervous."


As mentioned, the allies are working on speed of response. Hodges said the Wales Summit was all about preventing crisis and improving deterrence and being more responsive.

An outcome of that was the development of the alliance's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. The U.S. contribution to that is a rotational brigade out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Since Eastern Europe is not a small distance from Fort Stewart, the U.S. has set up European Activity Sets, or EAS, in Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania. That includes about 1,300 vehicles, including tanks and howitzers, he said.

By September of 2016, the U.S. expects to have additional EAS sites in Poland, Estonia and Latvia, and by 2017, Hungary. Guard units are welcome to add their equipment to any of those sites, he added.

All of this is being funded by the European Reassurance Initiative, and Hodges said he's optimistic funding will extend into 2017.

Some 400 Soldiers are now helping allies train and equip Ukrainian troops in the western part of the country, Hodges said.

It's part of the Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine, which includes British, Lithuanian and Canadian trainers.

He noted that training has been a two-way street as Ukrainians have been helpful in describing what happens during a Russian attack. For instance, they've tuned their ear to differentiate between different types of unmanned aerial vehicles and when they hear certain ones, they know missiles will soon follow.

The U.S. hasn't had to fear attack from the sky in decades, he noted. As the U.S. learns more and more about Russian capabilities, they've employed opposition force teams in German training areas to test their capabilities against things like air power, jamming and intercept capabilities.

Lastly, Hodges said that while the U.S. has and will continue to do a lot, each European country is responsible for its own defense too, in terms of training and equipment.
"We don't want Russians to miscalculate that we're not capable or willing to respond."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Army begins positioning equipment in Eastern Europe

Equipment for the European Activity Set, or EAS, is scheduled to be turned in to the first forward-positioned sites beginning this week, Defense Department officials said.

About 1,400 pieces of equipment that had been used in Operation Atlantic Resolve by Europe's Regionally Aligned Force - 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division - will be turned in at sites in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania, officials said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced during a trip to Estonia earlier this year that the United States will temporarily stage enough vehicles and associated equipment in Central and Eastern Europe to support an armored brigade combat team.

The equipment placement will allow U.S. rotational forces in the region to move more quickly and easily to participate in training and exercises, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

The items are part of the EAS, which includes some 12,000 pieces of equipment, including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery. The EAS equipment will be moved around the region for training and exercises as needed, Davis said.

Carter also announced earlier this year that Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania agreed to host company- to battalion-sized elements of EAS equipment. Germany already hosts EAS equipment.

The gear has been and will continue to be used in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve training and exercises that demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the collective defense of NATO allies, Davis told DOD News following the briefing.

"These continuing engagements strengthen our ability to work effectively among our allies, enhance trust, and help build enduring relationships that will be the foundation for future security in the region," he said.

Storing the U.S. equipment within allied and partner nations allows regionally-allocated forces easier access to that equipment when and where it is needed for training, which saves time, resources and potentially money, Davis said.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Army Zaps Artillery Rounds with Electricity for Extended Range | Military.com

Army Zaps Artillery Rounds with Electricity for Extended Range | Military.com: The U.S. Army is experimenting with electricity to give field artillery rounds extended range.

As part of an Army Science and Technology-funded project, engineers at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey are using electrical charges to give artillerymen greater control over propellants, which would give some long-range artillery rounds extended range, power and versatility.

"If you can control the burn rate and energy output of a propellant with electric voltage, this opens a whole new capability," David Thompson, a chemical engineer and member of the research team, said in a recent Army press release.

The Army uses artillery rounds that have two different types of motors for their extended range propellants. One type is a base bleed motor, which gets some extended range over a normal round and burns right out of gun, Thompson said.

The second type is a rocket-assist motor, which doesn't burn until it gets the top of its flight, before it boosts and increases the velocity of the projectile.

AFRICOM Expects Greater Funding in FY17

AFRICOM Expects Greater Funding in FY17: The head of US Africa Command expects to see a funding increase in fiscal year 2017, at a time when Africa is increasingly important to counter terrorist operations.

Asked if he expected AFRICOM's budget to increase in fiscal year 2017, Gen. David Rodriguez, who has led the command since April of 2013, said "yeah."

"And we got some increases this past year and we have some increases this year to do those things," Rodriguez said. "The capacity building is really the main effort to what we do because it's really the long-term solution and we have some pretty good success stories."

Specifically asked if he expected part of that funding increase to focus on training and growing local leadership, Rodriguez responded in the affirmative.

Regionally-aligned Soldiers find African forces motivated | Article | The United States Army

Regionally-aligned Soldiers find African forces motivated | Article | The United States Army

Soldiers who serve in the militaries of African nations are not interested in having Americans provide security for them or their countries - they want to get better at doing it for themselves, said U.S. Army Soldiers who recently returned from there.

Soldiers, assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, or 3/1 AD, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, recently concluded a nine-month period, January through September, where they were regionally aligned with U.S. Army Africa, or USARAF. As part of the "regionally-aligned forces," or RAF, concept, Soldiers with 3/1 AD deployed to and redeployed from Africa, some of them more than once, to provide military-to-military support on an as-needed basis to USARAF-sponsored missions there.

"We planned missions in Africa to support our brigade, which was regionally aligned under U.S. Army Africa," said Maj. Thomas E. Lamb, squadron executive officer for 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry. "We visited multiple countries, did security cooperation, participated in joint exercise lifecycle events and combined exercises with multi-national partners, such as our NATO allies and African allies on the continent, and built partner capacity within units who were actually training and prepping to go into harm's way in support of United Nations missions and other types of activities."

Lamb said his unit prepared for their RAF on-call period with Africa-specific training in culture and history, with individual training for Soldiers, and by brushing up on collective tasks such as team live-fire and squad live-fire.

"We re-blued ourselves on activities such as IED [improvised explosive device] training, medical training, and some of the other activities that we knew we'd be training indigenous forces in Africa," Lamb said.

Overall, Soldiers from the brigade ended up going to 26 different countries throughout the nine-month mission, said Col. Barry "Chip" Daniels, commander of the 3/1 AD, who personally visited 12 different African nations during his involvement in the RAF period.


"Probably my first significant observation in the whole mission, shared by many of the Soldiers as well, was the level of motivation of a lot of the African partners," Daniels said. "These are people who have a vision for the future. They know what they want to be. They want - as do most people in the world - for their children to grow up with a better life than they had."

Daniels said when he talked with the leaders and soldiers from the militaries of the different nations in Africa that he visited, he learned that they were adamant about getting better at taking care of their own business - rather than having somebody else do it for them.

"They are interested in securing their own part of the world - their backyard, so to speak," Daniels said. "And their militaries understand they may have some capability gaps that we can help them close, and provide them some assistance in everything from tactical-level training to headquarters exercises, operational concepts, staff planning and execution. They want to do that so they can counter extremists in their own backyard and provide for this future that they want."

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael C. Williams, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, traveled multiple times to Africa during the nine-month RAF period. He worked with militaries in Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia, and said he was impressed with their willingness to be independent - to learn from, but not lean on the U.S. military to do for them what they can and should do for themselves.

"I was immediately impressed by their level of discipline. They are very motivated, very energized, and they very much want to be successful in what they do," he said. "These nations want to be distributors of security rather than consumers of security from the United States. They want us to be able to come over there, and help build their capacity for security stabilization within their own region, versus having us do it for them. That is not their goal."

Williams said the RAF concept is a "phenomenal" idea for the U.S. Army to be involved in.

"It's a great way to allow these partner nations to facilitate their own security, and to prevent instability in their own regions," Williams said. "This is the first part of 'prevent, shape and win.' This is how we get 'left of the boom' and prevent having to go over and solve things kinetically for other people."


The Army's RAF concept links U.S. Army units to combatant commands, such as U.S. Africa Command, to provide on-demand support to them when needed. But it's not just combatant commanders that benefit from RAF. The Soldiers and the units that participate in RAF benefit as well.

For 1st Lt. Ashley Meadows, 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, the recent RAF rotation put her in Burkina Faso for a total of four months. It was her first time in Africa and she said it was the highlight of her Army career.

"It was the best experience I've had in the Army, and also in my life - to experience the different culture," she said. "You see certain things about Africa on the news. But I was pleasantly surprised to see a welcoming community, and I would go back."

During the brigade's nine-month RAF rotation, Meadows actually deployed to Burkina Faso two times. The first time she went for a month to participate in leadership training with the 1st Logistics Company in Burkina Faso. The second time, for three months, was to provide medical, resupply operations, and maintenance operations training to the same unit.

"It was myself and a team of six," she said. "We interacted with 193 soldiers, day in and day out. It wasn't just training medical and resupply. We also shared stories of deployment, personal stories of the difference between Burkina Faso and the United States - so it was a marriage of culture during this training."

Williams said that as a senior noncommissioned officer, or NCO, he felt his involvement in Africa as part of the RAF rotations there expanded his understanding of what kind of impact the United States has around the world.

"I think it has certainly brought awareness to me personally of the fact that it is entirely possible and plausible for us as a nation to have a real geopolitical impact on our partners and to facilitate things before they become problematic, or to solve problems before they become real problems," Williams said. "I think that it has also shown me how other nations envy what we do as a non-commissioned officer corps, and it has allowed me to appreciate what we do here that much more."


Daniels said he thought it will be some time - perhaps years - before the long-term impact of his unit's RAF rotation in Africa can be accurately measured.

"We are trying to prevent conflict by shaping the security environment and working with our partners in Africa at their request to secure their own region," he said. "Measuring the impact of that, and the effectiveness of that, is going to take time. I think we need to look at this in three- to five-year, and ten-year increments, and assess whether this investment we are making is actually shaping the security of the security environment and preventing the outbreak of large-scale hostilities."

What he knows now about their RAF rotations in Africa is that it has impacted his own unit, helping young leaders to grow and develop.

"There is no doubt this improved our leaders. We would send junior NCOs and junior officers over to run small teams in Africa for up to four months at a time," he said. "They are learning how to integrate with cultures that are very different from where they come from, their own background. Those cross-cultural skills are important."

The colonel said his Soldiers were exposed not just to the culture of the African militaries they worked with, but also the culture of other NATO partner nations and other agencies within the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense and Department of State.

"They get an appreciation for embassy operations, and what that means - what a country team does in each of these countries," he said. "They are learning that at a relatively junior level, and should we be committed to having to win decisively in a large-scale operation somewhere, they are going to already have a lot of this cultural expertise. So the leadership development aspect of it is fantastic."

Strategically, he said, the partnerships that his brigade has built with African militaries, and the partnerships other Army units will build, will be useful and valuable in the future.

"I think it is in the U.S. interest to have a stable Africa," he said. "They believe it is in their interest. I think we share that interest. And any work we do to help them achieve that is probably money well spent."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

LRASM begins Super Hornet flight testing | IHS Jane's 360

LRASM begins Super Hornet flight testing | IHS Jane's 360: The US Navy (USN) has begun airworthiness testing of Lockheed Martin's Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet carrier-borne strike fighter.

Developed and integrated under an accelerated programme to meet the Offensive Anti-surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment 1 programme, LRASM is a highly autonomous, precision-guided anti-ship standoff weapon that leverages the basic design of the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) but introduces additional sensors and systems specific to the offensive anti-surface warfare mission. It has been conceived to be able to penetrate sophisticated shipborne defences and with reduced dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation.

Originally initiated in 2008 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research, the programme has now been transitioned to the LRASM Deployment Office (LDO), a partnership of DARPA, the USN (through the Naval Air Systems Command [NAVAIR]), and the US Air Force (USAF).

Advocates Call For 200 Next-Generation Bombers

Advocates Call For 200 Next-Generation Bombers: Lawmakers and analysts renewed calls Wednesday for the Pentagon to build significantly more next-generation bombers than currently planned, arguing that the Air Force needs a fleet of 200 advanced bombers to project power in a more dangerous world.

In study released today by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller made the case for the Pentagon to procure a modernized bomber force of 200 aircraft by 2045.

“America desperately needs to rebuild its bomber force, starting with the [Long Range Strike Bomber] and then moving forward,” Moeller said. “100 new bombers, the analysis finds, is not enough.”

Two USN Carriers in Japan?

Two USN Carriers in Japan?: With the US Navy stretched beyond its means to meet worldwide commitments, planners are looking at ways to get more operational time out of the ships, aircraft and sailors on hand. One solution, says an influential analyst, is to consider basing not just one, but two aircraft carriers in Japan.

A second carrier in Japan would solve all western Pacific carrier needs, Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said Tuesday, a day before presenting his findings at a Capitol Hill press conference.

“Not having the transit time from the West Coast saves about 20 percent in the deployment length,” Clark said, adding that his research shows a two-carrier force would result in a 1.4 presence factor, meaning at least one carrier would be available every month of a year, with both carriers available an additional four months.

SecDef pulls back on personnel reforms, leaves out big changes for now

SecDef pulls back on personnel reforms, leaves out big changes for now: Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday vowed to push forward on an array of changes to the military personnel system, but omitted many of the ambitious proposals that top-level Pentagon officials talked about earlier this year.

Carter announced plans to create a new high-tech personnel management system for matching individual troops with job assignments, an online network he compared to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Other changes he intends to set in motion include streamlining transitions between the active and reserve components and creating a new “chief recruiting officer,” a civilian to oversee forcewide efforts to attract top talent.

The secretary said other reforms -- including those that could impact military pay, benefits and the way officers are promoted -- may be on the horizon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spanish ship embarks MV-22 Osprey squadron | IHS Jane's 360

Spanish ship embarks MV-22 Osprey squadron | IHS Jane's 360: The Spanish Navy (Armada Española) has claimed to be the first non-US naval service to embark a squadron of the US Marine Corps' (USMC's) Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft on board one of its ships. The embarkation took place during Exercise 'Trident Juncture 2015' that started in early October 2015 and jointly hosted by Spain, Portugal and Italy.

The four Osprey transports, which combine the vertical lift-off capability of a helicopter with the higher speed and payload flight of a turbo-prop aircraft, are stationed at the Morón de la Frontera Air Base in southern Spain.

For 'Trident Juncture 2015' the aircraft were embarked with six of the Armada's AV-8B Harrier and an AB-212 helicopter from the 27,000-tonne landing helicopter dock (LHD) Juan Carlos I .

"This event is a historic achievement both for the Marines and the Armada Española," said the Spanish Navy. "Never before has an American [Osprey] squadron formed part of an air unit embarked on a ship that does not belong to the US Navy."

Davis: Marine Corps Aviation Must Adapt To Become More 'Value-Added' to Naval Force - USNI News

Davis: Marine Corps Aviation Must Adapt To Become More 'Value-Added' to Naval Force - USNI News: The Navy and Marine Corps should explore ways to make Marine aircraft a more useful part of the naval battle force – using alternate mixes of aircraft types on amphibious ship flight decks, finding additional missions for those aircraft, and pursuing increased connectivity to the rest of the naval fleet, the deputy commandant for aviation told USNI News.

In recent memory, the aviation combat element (ACE) in the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has served to support the MEU’s ground combat element. The ACE brought Marines and their weapons ashore in combat situations and helped bring materiel ashore in humanitarian assistance missions.

But Lt. Gen. Jon Davis argues the MEU, and particularly the ACE – which already includes the game-changing MV-22 Osprey and will soon include the equally transformative F-35B Joint Strike Fighter – can and should do more.

Marines fly Osprey from Miramar to Brazil, set record

Marines fly Osprey from Miramar to Brazil, set record: The Marine Corps set a new distance record for Osprey flights on Tuesday as three MV-22Bs traveled from California to Brazil.

Flight crews from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 764 flew 6,165 miles from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to Rio de Janeiro. The Marines made the journey as part of UNITAS Amphibious 2015, a nine-day multinational maritime exercise that runs through Nov. 24. About 1,000 troops from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru are participating.

The Osprey squadron made a five-leg flight that included stops in Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil, said 1st Lt. Tyler Hopkins, a UNITAS spokesman. The three Ospreys were supported by three KC-130J Hercules tankers from Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 234 and one KC-130 from Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 452.

The flight took five days as leadership decided to wait out some bad weather, said Lt. Col. Greg Gehman, commander of the VMM-764 Moonlighters. Lessons learned from the long flight will lead to faster and more efficient responses, and help to better prepare flight crews for crossing international boundaries and dealing with environmental concerns, he said.

Army May Slow Down Procurement of New Light Reconnaissance Vehicle

Army May Slow Down Procurement of New Light Reconnaissance Vehicle: The Army is looking to procure a new scout vehicle for infantry units. But funding constraints and other priorities could hold the project back as the service pushes forward with its modernization plans.

The Army is undertaking an effort to restore “tactical mobility” to its infantry brigade combat teams, according to service officials. This includes equipping air assault forces with all-terrain “ground mobility vehicles,” or GMVs. But the unarmored trucks would create operational concerns.

Lt. Col. Scott Coulson, chief of the maneuver branch at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), said the GMV would not have much survivability.

If there’s a bad guy “with a machine gun and here comes 12 GMVs, that’s going to be a very bad day” for us, he said.

To prevent infantry units from unknowingly moving into the enemy’s crosshairs, the Army hopes to equip cavalry squadrons with light recon vehicles, also known as LRVs.

“LRV is intended to fill the capability gap right now inside the reconnaissance squadron,” Coulson said. “In the infantry brigade combat team, we do not have a dedicated platform that is capable of rapid mobile reconnaissance and fighting … to support expeditionary missions.”
Ted Maciuba, deputy director of mounted requirements at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, said the LRV needs to be able to conduct “reconnaissance by fire.”

The vehicles need to have the lethality necessary to lay down suppression fire, and also the ability to call in artillery or close-air support against heavily armed foes, he said.

Boeing’s KC-46 Tanker Completes Key Flight Tests

Boeing’s KC-46 Tanker Completes Key Flight Tests: Boeing’s KC-46 Tanker recently completed aerial refueling initial airworthiness, the latest step on the road to full air refueling capability.

The test plane’s 20th flight on Thursday marked the completion of a series of flight tests that validated the plane’s initial airworthiness to conduct aerial refueling operations, Boeing spokesman Charles Ramey told Defense News.

The team conducted what is called “free air stability” testing and worked to validate the plane’s aerodynamic model during the flights, Ramey said.

The initial airworthiness validation is the first of two major milestones necessary for the new tanker to conduct its core mission, aerial refueling, according to Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson.

Testing for Autonomous Helicopter Moving Forward

Testing for Autonomous Helicopter Moving Forward: Sikorsky will demonstrate the first flight of an autonomous UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter by the fourth quarter of 2016, said company executives.

The test will take “the lessons learned of what we did on the UH-60M upgrade and what we are doing on other areas of our product line … [to make] it a more affordable, lower cost solution,” said David Zack, vice president of the U.S. government division for Sikorsky Defense Systems and Services.

In collaboration with the Army, the company first flew an optionally-piloted UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter — the manned/unmanned resupply aerial lifter, or MURAL — on March 11, 2014 as part of a demonstration in West Palm Beach, Florida. The test used a prototype fly-by-wire UH-60M and incorporated the company’s Matrix technology, which improves the capability, reliability and safety of autonomous, optionally piloted and piloted vertical take-off and landing aircraft. For the unmanned UH-60A, the company has to retrofit fly-by-wire systems on the older aircraft and then add autonomy systems.

Similar to the UH-60M test, the unmanned UH-60A will demonstrate the ability to perform a cargo-lifting mission while being controlled from the ground.

Jeff Hanke, director of Army and Air Force programs for Sikorsky Defense Systems and Services, said the autonomy kit that will be added to the UH-60A is key to reducing the Army’s costs and logistical footprint. By “having a retrofittable kit that allows you to take an existing UH-60A or L and turn it into an autonomous vehicle, you’re not adding to the footprint that the U.S. Army already has, and the brunt of the cost of these systems is the logistics footprint.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Coast Guard studies shipping lanes for Bering Sea routes

Coast Guard studies shipping lanes for Bering Sea routes: More Arctic sea ice melting each summer from global warming is making it easier for ships to plot routes through the environmentally sensitive Bering Strait.

The rise in traffic is prompting concerns among U.S. Coast Guard officials about the potential dangers of a vessel crashing and leaking oil.

The Coast Guard is taking steps to plot a shipping route that will help the ships safely navigate the 53-mile wide waterway separating Russia and Alaska.

Among the vessels slated to pass through the strait is a cruise ship carrying more than 1,000 passengers on a 32-day voyage next year through the Northwest Passage.

The agency has laid out a 4-mile wide route through the Bering Sea into the Arctic Ocean that could become the area's first official shipping lane.

Monday, November 16, 2015

US Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System Defeats Cruise-Missile Target

US Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System Defeats Cruise-Missile Target: The US Army's future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (AIAMD) took out its first cruise-missile target on Nov. 12 in a test that included a new command-and-control system and Patriot and Sentinel radars, according to the service.

The test took place at 10:26 a.m. MST at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, according to an Army statement. While the cruise missile surrogate — an MQM 107 drone — went undetected by the Patriot radar due to its low-altitude trajectory, the Sentinel tracked the target and relayed the data to the Integrated Battle Command System — the brains of the AIAMD.

IBCS then relayed information through a remote integrated fire control network (IFCN) to engage the threat with a Lockheed Martin-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile that hit the target.

The test is significant because it shows that the Army is making headway in moving away from traditional, system-centric weapon systems — like Raytheon's Patriot air-and-missile defense system — to a net-centric, "plug and fight" integration of existing and future air and missile defense systems.

The Northrop Grumman-made IBCS, which all of the Army's missile defense sensors and shooters will plug into, is expected to reach initial operational capability in fiscal 2019.

DoD Officials Near Decision on Future of Patriot Missile System

DoD Officials Near Decision on Future of Patriot Missile System: Key Pentagon officials met this week to make critical decisions on the future of the Army's air and missile defense architecture, and while the service is not making recommendations in favor of any one radar for the system, the way forward must include an ability to target threats from 360 degrees — something the current Patriot system can't do.

Raytheon's Patriot has been the Army's cornerstone air-and-missile defense system for 40 years. But the service wants to replace the stovepipe system over time with a more integrated one.

It's clear from Army slides outlining findings from an analysis of alternatives conducted over the past year that the preference is to develop a newer 360-degree radar that meets emerging requirements and would keep pace with the more challenging threat environment expected in the future.

But developing a new radar, rather than upgrading the Raytheon-made Patriot, would cost more than the Army has in its budget for such an effort, according to the slides — marked "for official use only" and obtained by Defense News. The full analysis of alternatives is classified as secret, according to the documents.

The Army can afford to modernize Patriot and give it 360-degree capability, the slides show, but it is predicted that the missile wouldn't be able to keep up against a wide range of modern and future threats even with a baseline upgrade.

Obama hears calls to place US troops in Eastern Europe | TheHill

Obama hears calls to place US troops in Eastern Europe | TheHill: The Obama administration is hearing growing calls to permanently station a substantial number of troops in Eastern Europe as a deterrent to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putting a large number of U.S. or NATO troops in Eastern Europe would violate a 1997 treaty with Russia, but those arguing for the placement say Putin already broke that treaty by backing the takeover by Russian-backed groups of Ukrainian territory.

“Russia’s aggression and more dangerous military posture in Eastern Europe is a critical test for NATO,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a written statement. “Now is the time to bolster our Baltic allies and Poland by basing at least one battalion in each of the four countries. This would restore the confidence of our allies and reestablish a safer balance in the region.”
Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is the first lawmaker to publicly support the idea, but a congressional aide said the lawmaker is working with colleagues to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg advocating for the troops. The aide did not want to delve into further details since the letter is incomplete.

“This action wouldn't violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act because once Russia changed Europe’s 'current and foreseeable security environment,' NATO was released from its pledge not to permanently station substantial additional combat forces,” Engel said in his statement, which was separate from the letter.

Aides for some congressional Republicans said their bosses would likely support the proposition.

EEG may someday boost Soldiers' cognitive ability | Article | The United States Army

EEG may someday boost Soldiers' cognitive ability | Article | The United States Army

New and complex technology for Soldiers can tax their mental ability, since the brain has finite processing capability, said David Hairston, a neuroscientist.

Hairston and his colleagues at the Army Research Lab's Human Research and Engineering Directorate want to someday use electroencephalogram, or EEG, to aid Soldiers in those mental tasks. He's leading the Real-World Neuroimaging program to make that happen.

The EEG, which has been in use now for more than 60 years in clinical practice, measures and records voltage fluctuations in different parts of the brain to determine a person's neural patterns. Those patterns provide insights into what a person is seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling - like peering into an individual's mental and emotional state, he said.

For instance, if a Soldier is fatigued, a unique EEG pattern will be produced, he said. That sort of information could be useful for a commander, who could rotate in a more rested Soldier for a critical mission requiring alertness.

Unfortunately, there's currently no way to monitor a Soldier's neural pattern out in the field, since EEG equipment is bulky and it's located in laboratories or a medical facilities.

Hairston's goal is provide positive results to Soldiers by leveraging what can be learned from an EEG. The challenge, Hairston said, is that science currently has very little understanding of how the brain works outside of the laboratory, because the brain is very rarely measured outside a clinical setting. He compared that task to putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle that's missing many of the pieces. "We have to create the pieces as we go along."


The first puzzle piece Hairston's team created was a simplification of how the EEG is hooked up to a person's head. The traditional method is attaching wired sensors to different parts of a person's scalp. A gooey gel is used on the person's head to facilitate electrical conductivity.

That gel and all those wires are messy, bulky, invasive, uncomfortable and time-consuming to connect, he said.

Instead of using gel, ARL researchers invented new sensors based on spring-loaded pins. "The pins wiggle their way through your hair to make contact, so you don't need gel." he said.


The second piece of the puzzle involved removing all the individual, separate wires and sensors from the scalp and encasing them in a custom-fitting, lightweight cap made of plastic that's fitted over the head.

The cap could be worn, he said, by an image analyst sitting in front of a computer, looking through images from an unmanned aerial vehicle, searching for a pattern, which might be, for example, an enemy emplacement or a tank.

When the analyst is pouring over thousands of images, he might miss something important because of the immense amount of cognitive processing required. Plus, it is a very time-consuming and tiring process.

Wearing the cap would facilitate that task with EEG, since "we can pick out that sort of ah-ha, pop-out moment in your brain, which happens very quickly," he said.

In other words, the Soldier's brain subconsciously picked out the signal, but the brain's internal communication didn't elevate it to the conscious level, he said.

Using an algorithm, a computer that's hooked up to the EEG would then process that information and quickly figure out that of 1,000 images, perhaps 10 are likely very important based on the EEG pattern, he said. Those could then be re-presented back to the Soldier very slowly so they can look for the target.

One problem though is that most EEG caps are not comfortable because they are designed as "one-size fits all," so people will not wear them long. As an alternative approach, Hairston picked up a prototype of a custom-fit cap that had been printed out by one of ARL's 3-D printers. The Soldier's head had first been measured in 3-D by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The cap felt lightweight, spongy and comfortable, and would be a perfect fit for that Soldier.


Puzzle piece number three involved completely ditching the cap and wirelessly transmitting EEG data via a microprocessor. This is one of the most challenging stages.

ARL's material scientists are looking at a number of materials to make non-metallic polymer sensors that are stretchable and pliable so they'll be comfortable and lightweight, he said. "In order to do this, we must work as a multi-disciplinary, collaborative team, involving members from other areas including material science, aerospace engineering and electronics engineering."

The material holding the sensors and the sensors themselves would need to be thin enough to fit inside a Soldier's helmet safely, and the electronics operate only on locally-harvested power to alleviate the need for a bulky battery.

Hairston held up an example of one that's being tested. It was lightweight and comfortable. "We don't want to burden Soldiers with more equipment," he said.

The other parts of the puzzle would be getting the sensors to transmit on ultra-low power and getting the algorithms needed to assist Soldiers in a variety of tasks.

It's probably still years away from happening, he said.

But at ARL, it's about "taking what we know from basic neuroscience research and finding ways of turning that into useful applications for Soldier systems and future scientific methods and understanding of how the brain actually works in real, dynamic environments."

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Destroyer Aims to Go to Sea Next Month

New Destroyer Aims to Go to Sea Next Month: If everything goes right, if the hardware and software all seem good and the weather cooperates, the revolutionary destroyer Zumwalt (DDG 1000) could taste the sea for the first time in less than a month. It’ll be a moment many years in the making.

“We’re at the stage of construction where there is very little production going on. The ship is built,” Sean Stackley, the Navy’s top official for research, acquisition and development, said Nov. 5.

Featuring a tumblehome hull optimized for stealth, a new propulsion and power distribution system, an ambitious software environment that ties together nearly every system on the ship, and a reduced crew, the Zumwalt has been under construction since 2008 in the tiny town of Bath, Maine, at the Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard of General Dynamics. Development and design started much earlier than that.

”Everything is new,” Stackley said in an interview with Defense News. “From the propulsion plant, the power distribution – the whole integrated power system – the extraordinarily unique features of the hull form that provide the degree of stealth and survivability, the radar system, the degree of automation that’s incorporated into the ship to enable the reduced-size crew – it’s all new.

“We’re at that stage,” he added, where “all of that is coming together in the test program.”

The ship carried out extensive tests at the shipyard in mid-October – a 96-hour, four-day “fast cruise.”

F-35's Joint Strike Missile successfully completes flight test

F-35's Joint Strike Missile successfully completes flight test: The Kongsberg-made Joint Strike Missile successfully completed a missile flight test at a U.S. Air Force base in Utah.

The missile, developed specifically for Lockheed Martin's F-35 multi-role fighter jet, was launched at an altitude of 22,000 feet from an F-16 jet over the testing area and performed several challenging maneuvers.

Kongsberg, a defense contractor based in Norway, called the test a milestone achievement for the Joint Strike Missile program.

"This is a major accomplishment for the JSM program, and in addition several critical capabilities beyond the scope of the test were verified," Kongsberg Defense Systems President Harald Annestad said in a statement. "The test demonstrates that we are on track with the qualification of JSM, which brings critical capability to F-35 and the warfighter."

3D printed UAV makes debut

3D printed UAV makes debut: A jet-powered, 3D-printed unmanned aerial vehicle has been unveiled this week by Stratasys Ltd and Aurora flight sciences.

The UAV has a nine-foot wingspan, weighs just 33 pounds and has a speed of more than 150 miles per hour, according to Stratasys Ltd., which is headquartered in Minnesota.

"A primary goal for us was to show the aerospace industry just how quickly you can go from designing to building to flying a 3D printed jet-powered aircraft," said Dan Campbell, Aerospace Research Engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

LRS-B Faces Challenging Budget Outlook

LRS-B Faces Challenging Budget Outlook: Constrained US Air Force budgets over the coming decade will likely pit the Joint Strike Fighter against the Long Range Strike Bomber, potentially making the bomber project vulnerable to congressional deficit hawks, a panel of experts said Tuesday.

Speaking at a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event, Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in defense issues, said Congress has not yet accepted – as the Pentagon has – that the US no longer enjoys worldwide aerial superiority.

This makes the LRS-B program vulnerable to cuts by a cost-conscious Congress, much as the B-2 became a sacrificial lamb to budget-balancing efforts in the 1990s, she said.

“The Air Force budget is not equipped to fully support this program already,” she said, noting that space already consumes 15 percent of the Air Force’s budget. Other modernization programs, including two-thirds of the nuclear triad, as well as a recapitalization of its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and development of a new trainer aircraft, also face budget crunches.

Bell Could Have FVL Ready For US Navy, Air Force By 2025

Bell Could Have FVL Ready For US Navy, Air Force By 2025: As the Pentagon considers the future of military vertical lift, Bell Helicopter is in talks with the US Navy and US Air Force to design a next-generation tiltrotor solution that could be ready by 2025.

Bell is partnered with Lockheed Martin to build a rotorcraft flight demonstrator as part of the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role program, which will gauge the art of the possible for the path ahead. The demonstrator program will inform the Army’s Future Vertical Lift effort to buy a new state-of-the-art family of helicopters in the 2030s.

But the demonstration effort may have implications beyond the Army. The Pentagon has indicated that FVL may eventually replace the Navy, US Marine Corps and Air Force military helicopters as well.

Experts: Bomber cost could upset F-35 plans

Experts: Bomber cost could upset F-35 plans: The F-35 is going to eat up so much of the Air Force’s procurement budget going forward that the service will likely have to reduce the number of joint strike fighters it buys to pay for other things, such as the Long Range Strike-Bomber, experts said on Tuesday.

As part of the Defense Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2016, the Air Force would purchase 44 F-35s this fiscal year, 48 in fiscal 2017 and 60 each year from fiscal 2018 through 2020, budget documents show. The total procurement cost of the 1,763 F-35s is about $215 billion.

The Air Force also plans buy between 80 and 100 Long Range Strike-Bombers for up to $100 billion. The new bomber will replace the Air Force’s fleet of B-1s and B-52s.

In order to pay for the bomber, the Air Force will likely have to reduce the number of F-35s and other procurement programs, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst for the Teal Group.

Commercial Spaceflight Gets A Boost With Latest Congressional Moves

Commercial Spaceflight Gets A Boost With Latest Congressional Moves: The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is the trade association of the commercial spaceflight industry. Much of its membership consists of those companies that are thought of as entrepreneurial start-ups that are trying to advance commercial space activities.

The list includes Bigalow Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Planetary Resources and XCOR Aerospace. In addition there are several commercial spaceport members including Mojave Spaceport, Spaceport America and Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.

One of the ongoing activities of CSF is lobbying for the reauthorization of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competiveness Act (CSLA). CSF recently pointed out that when the CSLA was last updated in 2004, it incentivized high levels of investment, innovation and economic growth in commercial space flight activities. The new legislation (H.R. 2262) will allow continued growth and expansion of this industry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Navy Developing Software To Give Standard Missile-6 Additional Mission Capabilities - USNI News

Navy Developing Software To Give Standard Missile-6 Additional Mission Capabilities - USNI News: The Navy’s surface ship weapons office is developing software to bring additional mission sets to the Standard Missile-6 surface-to-air missile, which may be ready for fielding in the next year or two.

Capt. Michael Ladner, program manager of the surface ship weapons office in the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS 3.0), told USNI News that there are several new missions that could be added to SM-6 – beyond its advertised capability of air defense against manned and unmanned aircraft and cruise missiles – through software-only upgrades.

“Our focus in IWS 3.0, in surface ship weapons, has been, how do we go find opportunities to take advantage of existing capability in the missiles above and beyond what they were initially required to go do, to see if we could provide an affordable capability faster to the fleet by taking advantage again of the capabilities already in the missiles [and adding] those new mission sets,” he said in an Oct. 26 interview.
“Of course the new missions are classified, but we are taking advantage above what was originally intended for these missiles to go do.”

Milley: Russia No.1 threat to US | Article | The United States Army

Milley: Russia No.1 threat to US | Article | The United States Army

Russia should be considered the No. 1 threat to the United States for two reasons, its capability and its intent, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.

"In terms of capability, Russia is the only country on earth that has the capability to destroy the United States of America," Milley said here at the Defense One Summit, Nov. 2.

"It's an existential threat by definition because of their nuclear capabilities. Other countries have nuclear weapons, but none as many as Russia and none have the capability to literally destroy the United States."

Milley noted that while neither he nor anyone else knows what Russia's true intent is, his best guess at intent is based on past behavior over the last few years - a reorganized military, increased capabilities and aggressive foreign policy.

"The situation with Russia in my mind is serious and growing more serious," he said. "I see Russia as aggressive, not just assertive. They attacked Georgia; they illegally seized Crimea; they have attacked Ukraine… all those countries were free and independent and have been sovereign nations now for a quarter century, since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"I would say, Russia's recent behavior is adversarial to the interest of the United States," Milley said, adding that the United States and its allies have to approach Russia with a strength and balance approach.

"So, we want on the one hand to maintain strength in order to deter further Russian aggression and we need to stand firm where that aggression manifests itself, hence things like sanctions and what NATO is doing right now," he said.

"On the flip side, you don't want to shut them off completely, so we have our hands outreached where you have common interests and there are a variety of areas where the U.S., NATO and other friends to the U.S. have common interests with Russia… so, it's not a zero and one calculation… there's more nuance than that."

U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said during the recent Association of the United States Army annual meeting that he too would like to see the Russians back at the bargaining table and in the international community.

Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union continue to demonstrate the collective security of NATO through ongoing military exercises called Operation Atlantic Resolve, which began when Russia went into Ukraine. Hodges said the objective is deterrence. Units participate for about three months in the non-stop Atlantic Resolve rotations, which are multinational in scope.

Over the last several weeks, Milley had the opportunity to visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Afghanistan, then went into Europe and over to Indonesia and South Korea to meet with the chiefs of armies in the Pacific. Last week, he returned to Europe and met with the chiefs of the European armies and followed up with a trip to Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian desires continued military support by the United States and continued political and economic support," Milley said. "They're a proud people; they've been sovereign for 25 years and they're determined to remain a free and independent country."

Turning to the Middle East, the chief said the issues were strategic and that the radical terrorism in its current form of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, doesn't lend itself to easy solutions and will probably be there for a while.

"The president has given us charge to go ahead and degrade, then destroy ISIS - and we're doing that," he said. "We're adjusting our strategies… adjusting our tactical and operational approaches to achieve the strategic end state. The Middle East, specifically ISIS, is a problem that we're coming to grips with right now."

Milley next addressed the geopolitical challenges in Asia, specifically the situation on the Korean Peninsula, then the rise of China.

"In Korea you have a state of armistice since 1953," he said. "We have helped the Korean military and people maintain their independence, but Korea is artificially divided by the 38th Parallel, yet they are one ethnolinguistic group and at some point in the future… I don't know when, I don't know how… but at some point in the future it is highly probable that Korea will be one country again… whether that happens peacefully or violently, that's the $64,000 question.

"My concern is there would be a provocative incident initiated by North Korea that could lead to something more violent and that would be really tragic for Korea," he said.

"China is not an enemy and I think that's important for people to clearly understand," Milley continued. "China is a rising power that has been clicking off at 10 percent growth for almost 30 years. They dropped down to 7 percent last year and they will probably drop down to the range of normalcy and 3 to 5 percent growth, but that's still significant economic growth."

The chief summed up his thoughts saying that his main concern was Army readiness.

"None of us can see the future, so the readiness of the military is a fundamental concern and the greatest sin that I or any other general can commit is to send a Soldier, sailor, airman and Marine into combat and harm's way who is not well equipped, trained and ready," he said. "And, we want over-match… we do not want a level playing field or a fair fight; we want it all in our favor."

Monday, November 9, 2015

2-star: F-35 delays could force further extension of Super Hornets

2-star: F-35 delays could force further extension of Super Hornets: Joint strike fighter delays may force the carrier Navy to fly F/A-18 Super Hornets even longer into coming decades, a predicament that could reduce training hours and strain airframes.

Plans have been in the works to retire the F/A-18C Hornets in the mid-2020s, followed by the F/A-18E and F Super Hornets around 2035, but the consistently delayed development of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter has compelled the service to push the Hornets past their planned service lives. The dilemma raises the possibility that Super Hornets new to the fleet may still be flying in three decades.

"We might even fly these airplanes close to 2040," air warfare director Rear Adm. Mike Manazir told members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower on Monday.

The most expensive acquisition program in Defense Department history is not coming online fast enough to replace the fleet's F/A-18 strike fighters, which have spent more than a decade as warhorses in current conflicts.

Pentagon's Responsive Space Plan Has Problems

Pentagon's Responsive Space Plan Has Problems: A Government Accountability Office study has found problems with the Pentagon's planning for a responsive space capability.

While a 2015 Department of Defense report addressed many of the responsive space requirements call for in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, it did not include a consolidated plan for developing a responsive launch capability for quick launch of spacecraft, according to GAO researchers.

The problem seems to be one of requirements. "DoD attributes this omission to a lack of requirements for responsive launch, noting that no existing space program has them. DoD officials told us that such requirements are premature without a validated need for now responsive launch," the GAO report noted. "Officials from the United States Strategic Command added that responsive launch needs cannot be well defined at this time due to uncertainties in the threat environment, and stated that DoD will validate future responsive launch requirements once it acquires new information from intelligence and defense studies presently underway."

General Dynamics Can't Be Trusted on Destroyer Data, Agency Says - Bloomberg Business

General Dynamics Can't Be Trusted on Destroyer Data, Agency Says - Bloomberg Business: The Pentagon agency that oversees contracts says it can’t rely on cost and schedule projections from General Dynamics Corp.’s warship unit in a $22 billion program to build three Zumwalt-class destroyers.

The Defense Contract Management Agency wrote in an assessment that it “has no confidence in” the data because the unit, Bath Iron Works, hasn’t shown that it’s remedied 56 serious deficiencies the agency first cited in 2011. The flaws were in the shipbuilder’s “earned value management system,” which tracks how effectively milestones for the destroyers are being met.

The finding of “no confidence” means the agency considers data produced by Bath Iron Works “unreliable and inaccurate,” agency spokesman Mark Woodbury said in an e-mail.
The agency “identified systemic deficiencies in scheduling processes” and “estimates of cost at completion that were not being updated based upon performance trends” with the vessels, he said.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Graphene could take night-vision technology beyond 'Predator'

Graphene could take night-vision technology beyond 'Predator': Movies such as 1987's "Predator," in which an alien who sees in the infrared hunts down Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team, introduced a generation of sci-fi fans to thermal imaging. Since then, heat-sensing devices have found many real-word applications but have remained relatively expensive and rigid.

But a new development featuring graphene, reported in ACS' journal Nano Letters, could lead to a flexible, transparent and low-cost infrared vision system.

The concept of humans - or aliens - having the power to see in the infrared to help fight enemies in the dark has been around for decades. Technology has allowed real-life military, police, firefighters and others to do their jobs successfully at night and in smoky conditions. It also helps manufacturers and building inspectors identify overheating equipment or circuits.

But currently, many of these systems require cryogenic cooling to filter out background radiation, or "noise," and create a reliable image.